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Get In The RED ZONE: An Exclusive Interview With Vinnie Moore Of UFO/RED ZONE RIDER

By Krishta Abruzzini, Pacific Northwest Writer
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 @ 4:30 PM


"The computer has totally enabled lots of talentless fucks to pretend to be artists or musicians."

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Known best as a neo-classical guitar legend and longtime guitarist for UFO, Vinnie Moore is one of the busiest guys in the industry. Heís presently in the studio finishing a new UFO album, prepping for the 2015 XG Extreme Guitar Tour (see the end of the interview for details), and has a new solo band project RED ZONE RIDER, which dropped their debut release (Magna Carta Records) in September 2014.

RED ZONE RIDER, consisting of Moore - Guitar (Solo Artist, ALICECOOPER, UFO), Kelly Keeling - Vocals, Fretless Bass, Organ (BATON ROUGE, MSG, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA) and Scot Coogan - Drums (LITA FORD, ACE FREHLEY, BRIDES OFDESTRUCTION) and produced by the oh-so-talented Mike Varney, is a heavy, straightforward, blues-laden rock album.

The first song on the release, titled ďHell NoĒ, is reminiscent of early 80s WHITESNAKE, and from there each song grooves with its own mid-70s swagger that defined early rock Ďn roll. As an artist, Vinnie enjoys incorporating various players into the mix. Heís known predominantly for his tenure with UFO and solo guitar albums, so this was a project that took him outside of his past music projects.

In between his busy schedule, Vinnie took some time to catch up with me and throw in an interview for KNAC.COM.

KNAC.COM: Tell me how you formed this group. I remember you looking for a singer some time back and toying with the idea of forming a band. What made you choose Kelly Keeling as frontman? He also plays bass on these tracks?

MOORE: He plays bass and keyboards. I met Kelly years back and have always thought he was a great singer and had it in the back of my mind that he would be a good guy to work with someday. But I had no idea that he was such an accomplished keyboardist and bassist.

I was trying to put a band together and found out that he was as well, so we started to communicate and it turned out that we had similar influences and a lot of common ground. Kelly of course has a great voice, but he is also very creative and I like working with creative people. He had been talking with Magna Carta records and that worked out well because I have worked with them in the past, so things fell into place.

KNAC.COM: How did you choose your drummer Scot Coogan?

MOORE: We choose Scotty because he kind of looks like Billie Joe Armstrong from GREEN DAY and we thought that it would really help us if people thought a mega star singer was playing drums for us. We couldnít find anyone that looked like Dave Grohl, unfortunately. Mike Varney produced the record and he knew Scot and made the recommendation. I checked out some videos of him and was really impressed with his drumming and also how good of a lead singer he is. He also did lead vocals with a lot of bands he has been in. He seemed like the perfect guy for us.

KNAC.COM: Have you always wanted to do a non-instrumental project that was your own?

MOORE: Yes. I have been doing a lot of that with UFO for the past 10 years but also like to work with different combinations of players.

KNAC.COM: What is your favorite track off RED ZONE RIDER, and why?

MOORE: I like "Never Trust A Woman" a lot because I think it is deep musically and lyrically and Kelly really killed on that one. I really like "Save It" also, which is Kellyís song. In a way, itís easier to be a fan of something that you didnít write.

KNAC.COM: As far as technical details, do you use the same rig and setup for this band as you do for UFO or your solo instrumental projects? Can you give some detail as to the gear you use, endorse, etc?

MOORE: Yes pretty much. I do most of my recording at home in my studio. I have many guitars, amps and pedals here and I could never take all my shit to another studio. Plus, I really prefer to work alone most of the time. I can focus more that way. I like to shut out the world and usually become obsessed with my work. I get annoyed when the phone rings or if there is any other distraction. I have zero patience and even hate it when I have to take a whizz. I like to be at the studio playing with the other guys when we are sorting out ideas and laying down drums and the basic tracks, but for the solos and textures, I like to work in my little cocoon. As far as guitars, I mostly use my signature model Dean guitars. I have been using my Marshall JMP mkII 100 watt head for most of the stuff I have recorded in the last two years.

KNAC.COM: Do you plan to tour this album?

MOORE: Yes. We are working on some stuff at the moment. It will be a lot of fun playing these songs onstage.

KNAC.COM: What was the writing process for this album?

MOORE: Before we got together in Vegas to record, I spent two weeks writing new songs. I showed up at the studio with a bunch of demos and Kelly had songs also, so we would sit down and listen to things, and then grab our instruments and start to play through them. Sometimes the song structures ended up the same as the demos and sometimes we changed things a little. Thatís the beauty of playing together as a band. You get to interact and feed off of one anotherís energy. Someone plays something and it inspires you to play something that you wouldnít have thought of on your own and things start to blossom and grow. Kelly wrote the lyrics during the whole studio process.

KNAC.COM: Will there be more from this group?

MOORE: Yes. We enjoyed working with one another and I think we all have a lot of gas in the tank.

KNAC.COM: You just recorded a new album with UFO? What are the plans with that?

MOORE: My immediate plan is to finally finish the fuckiní thing. I have been at it for a while and am almost done. I like it when I work quickly. Most of the time, the sooner you get in and out the better, but inevitably, I also get sucked into the vortex because I donít know how to turn off the creativity and I will just keep coming up with ideas. At a certain point you just have to let go and call it a day. That is hard for me, my OCD kicks in (laughing). But yes, new UFO will be out in January. Lots of good stuff on it.

KNAC.COM: Which is your biggest passion? Playing solo or in a singer-fronted band?

MOORE: I love both of course, but prefer to be with a band because itís easier to jump around onstage and act like an idiot when Iím playing rhythm. You have to stand still most of the time during solos. I grew up on rock bands like THE BEATLES, DEEP PURPLE, QUEEN and LED ZEP, so I guess that is what feels more natural for me.

KNAC.COM: Do you or did you ever get stage fright? What do you do to combat it if so, and is there a routine you have prior to show time?

MOORE: When I am with a band I usually donít get nervous. There are some exceptions though, such as the first show of a tour, or doing a one-off thing like going up to jam with someone. Doing guitar clinics can be a little stressful also because I am alone onstage and I know all the focus is going to be on me. But with a band, itís easier because you are all doing it together. As long as I am at the gig an hour before show time, I am okay. If we get there late for whatever reason, the driver got lost, there is lots of traffic or whatever, I get a little aggravated and wound up. I usually drink some coffee and then get into some black clothes about 30 minutes before the show. Then Iíll pick up the guitar and noodle around a little bit.

KNAC.COM: If you could form the ultimate supergroup, who would you choose?

MOORE: Four hot chicks so I can be very happy on the tour bus.

KNAC.COM: 2014 marks the first year that there are no platinum records. Weird huh? What are your thoughts on this? (at the date of this published interview, Taylor Swift has become the first and only platinum artist of 2014 so far)

MOORE: Where do I start? Actually, it is not weird, it makes perfect sense. No one buys records anymore because of course fans are downloading and streaming everything for free. Luckily established artists can still tour and fans still come out to shows. Sometimes I feel the only reason to make a new record is because it seems to help proliferate touring. I love writing and recording new music and work really hard at it, but itís easy to sometimes get frustrated and think ďWhy the fuck am I trying so hard when no one is buying records anyway?Ē I am sure a lot of other musicians are feeling the same sense of alienation. In the end, I know that I do it because I love music and the guitar, and because its one of the main ways that I express myself. Besides, Iím kind of addicted; take music away and Iím really fucked, only half a person, chopped by a machete, maybe even only half of a half of Nate (Dewey Cox movie reference). I have no idea how new bands even have a shot anymore. Some of the greatest bands in history would never have gone anywhere if they had come out in the climate we are living in today. Think of one of your all-time favorite bands and there is a good chance that, nope, they never would have gotten recognized. QUEEN, I doubt it. GENESIS, nah. PINK FLOYD, no way. If it continues to worsen, how are artists going to even be able to make a record? Imagine a world with no new music or even worse than that, even more of the pitch-corrected, quantized, inhuman, regurgitated garbage that is being fed to the masses right now. My hatís off to all of the bands out there who are keeping it real.

KNAC.COM: What do you think of the statement Gene Simmons made that rock is indeed dead?

MOORE: No, I think he said that cock is in need of head and genius that statement is. Rock is alive but the music biz is mostly dead. (See the rant above). But wait, I have more, music is about to be all the way dead unless some divine miracle falls from the sky. You know, computers and cell phones are great, they allow us to do so many things that used to be impossible. On a personal level for me, being able to record at home is a prime example; I always wanted to do that and now I can, but it sure has also fucked a lot of things up big time, replacing humans a little at a time. Not only in the music biz of course. How long before youíll be able to type into a software program what your favorite bands are, which will then spit out your very own new album? Musicians wonít have to worry about illegal downloads of their own music anymore, people wont be doing that because theyíll be like, ďNah man, I got my own shit from the Dell using ĎCreate-a-Supergroupí software.Ē It will also make art for you, in the style of your faves like, Rembrandt, Picasso, Van Gogh, etc. Like to read novels? No problem, Shakespeareís ghost app will write your very own books. How long before animation is so good that they won't need actors because they can make cartoons look like real people on TV? And oh my god, this is by far the worst, cartoons on YouPorn! No real people to make my juices flow, nooooooooo!

The computer has also totally enabled lots of talentless fucks to pretend to be artists or musicians. Put them onstage and what can they do? Lip-sync over backing tracks? But as long as you have the look you donít need to be able to sing; pitch correction software is so good that itíll fix just about anything. All you need to do is dance and look pretty onstage. At least until 3D hologram people can be projected onstage and in videos. Then people won't be needed at all. Iím exaggerating of course (or hope so anyway) but you get the point. We are taking the HUMAN right out of everything. It is scary. Humans donít sing perfectly on pitch every time. They donít perform perfectly on their instruments every time and they donít play 100 percent in time like a drum machine, but thatís where the feel comes from. We are living in an age where everyone is trying to polish everything and make it perfect with software. Itís not natural, people are not perfect, and we are losing the human element. I love what I do and worked very hard to be good at it and need to feel like my performances are actually me and not altered by a series of ones and zeros. Fuck that! To tell you the truth, when it comes to art, money is an unimportant detail. It just happens to be a huge one unimportant detail. Thatís one of lots of great quotes from Iggy Popís lecture to the BBC:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1DBxXYBDJLt2xZgxjzCkLRg/bbc-music-john-peel-lecture-iggy-pops-keynote-speech-transcript

KNAC.COM: So, along with the free downloading of music, what do you think of U2 giving their latest release away for free? Personally, I think it perpetuates the masses opinion that all music should be free. Apple paid them...well to do this. That's got to be a bit frustrating to the bands that depend on music sales.

MOORE: Well, Bono is God and God should definitely not have taken money from Apple. I donít know what their intention was or if they really thought through what the repercussions could be, but lets just hope that people donít start to think that all music should be free.

KNAC.COM: I had an indie artist say to me once that he believed all music should be free and that a band could only truly make their money through merchandizing. ďYou canít download a t-shirtĒ.

MOORE: I guess it depends on which artist we are talking about. Many artists have made lots of money on record sales. I certainly wouldnít wanna give back the money that I have earned over the years from record sales, but yes artists can stand to do well with touring and merchandise, and yes many of them can potentially do better with touring than they can with sales. Especially nowadays. But I do not agree that all music should be free, unless of course everything else in the world is free.

KNAC.COM: What are your future plans as of now regarding music?

MOORE: After this interview, Iím definitely fuckiní quitting. The gun is under the bed and loaded.....Iím done.....Iím frikkin done I tell you. Just kidding. Iíll be doing some shows with RZR in January, then I will be touring Europe with UFO in February/March and UK in April/May. Ahhhhh the fans....I love them.

You can see Vinnie on tour this January, 2015 on the XG Extreme Guitar Tour:

The Paramour Group and JAAB Productions are proud to announce the 2015 XG Extreme Guitar Tour.

Featuring members of BLACK SABBATHh, DEEP PURPLE, DIO, MSG, RAINBOW, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, SCORPIONS, UFO & YNGWIE MALMSTEEN.

XG Tour includes performances by guitar greats Uli Jon Roth, Vinnie Moore, Craig Goldy and introducing new act... BLACK KNIGHTS RISING.

Special guests Joe Lynn Turner* (RAINBOW, DEEP PURPLE) & shredding Shrapnel Records recording artist Joey Tafolla* (JAG PANZER & solo artist) will perform at select shows.

Drumming for Uli Jon Roth will be Kofi Baker, son of CREAM drummer Ginger Baker.

Elliot Rubinson, CEO of Dean Guitars will be featured on bass during the performances of all three guitarists.

BLACK KNIGHTS RISING are: Craig Goldy - guitar, Vinnie Appice - drums, Mark Boals - vocals, Allesandro Bertoni - keyboards and Elliot Rubinson - bass.

Confirmed dates listed below with more to be announced soon. Canadian rockers OLD JAMES will be special guests on select shows.

  • 1/21 - San Diego, CA - Ramona Main Stage*
  • 1/22 - Anaheim, CA - HOB*
  • 1/23 - Hollywood, CA - HOB*
  • 1/24 - Las Vegas, NV - Vampíd*
  • 1/25 - San Jose, CA - Rock Bar Theater
  • 1/26 - Portland, OR - Tonic
  • 1/27 - Seattle, WA - Studio 7
  • 1/28 - Missoula, MT - Dennison Theater
  • 1/29 - Fargo, ND - The Garage
  • 1/30 - Spring Lake Park, MN - POVS
  • 1/31 - St Charles, IL - Arcada Theater
  • 2/1 - Chicago, IL - Reggies
  • 2/2 - Detroit, MI - Token Lounge
  • 2/3 - Cleveland, OH - Agora Ballroom
  • 2/4 - Toronto, ON - Mod Club
  • 2/5 - Ottawa, ON - Brass Monkey
  • 2/6 - Montreal, QU - The National
  • 2/7 - Poughkeepsie, NY - The Chance
  • 2/8 - NYC, NY - BB Kings
You can check out RED ZONE RIDER at: http://magnacarta.net/redzonerider/index.html
The official UFO website: http://www.ufo-music.info/


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